My journey with mental illness started during my teenage years after I suffered a major head injury when my world I knew suddenly turned upside down. I went from playing sports. Cheerleading, acting to being in a whee chair with limited mobility, seizures almost daily and a feeling of hopelessness always clouding my mind.
Countless doctors, tests and medications were tried to get me to back to my normal self. My teachers were the first to notice I seemed sad and not myself after the incident. Even though doctors prescribed different medications to help, no pill was able to take away the depression I felt and anxiety attacks. It only masked the feelings for a short time. I went off them and didn’t go back.
I hid my mental illness for many years the best I could. I put on a smile no matter what my mind was thinking or going through. Then I would spend countless nights soaking my pillow in tears. I was ashamed. I believed mental illness to be the stigma I was taught “I needed to pray more, it’s not from God, it’s a sin, it’s all in my head, I don’t need medications, it’s a weakness, etc…”
Fast forward to marriage which was lovely until I got pregnant and we lost our baby. My depression was so severe I could hardly move in my bed during the loss and after. I remember my husband looking at me with such concern. But I told him I was ok, I would get through it.
Then we were blessed again with another pregnancy – this one leading to delivery. I thought my joy would radiate when I held that baby in my arms, but my mental illness suffered so much during those precious weeks. Days upon days I wouldn’t move. Only to feed and change the baby. My friend came in to visit and saw how distraught I looked, she knew I needed to seek some medical attention. I was told I had severe PPD. Right away the medication came and I will say, it did help. But didn’t take it away. I still had bad days, I call them “downs”. Journaling, counseling, and praying helped but it didn’t cure me.
In fact now having two healthy beautiful boys, myself being medicated, I can say that I still struggle: sometimes even to get out of bed, get dressed, eat, take care of myself, feel purposeful, thoughts of not being alive anymore, etc.
But I remind myself there is HOPE! I am not a freak because I suffer from mental illness. It’s not my fault. God has a purpose for me in all this. I’m not ashamed anymore.
I share my story to hopefully reach someone who has felt these feelings, and to know I’m not alone, you’re not alone. It’s a battle we face, but having community who can relate and understand is a way to healing.